I do not care so much what I am to others as I care what I am to myself.
~ Michel de Montaigne
I am incapable of mediocrity.
Do you feel good about yourself?
Are you satisfied with what you’ve accomplished in life? Do you think or talk about it a lot?
Pride is a double-edged sword. It has historically been considered an undesirable trait, while humility has been considered a virtue. The “sin of pride” is one of the seven deadly sins. However, in this context, pride is a relative term—we would have to feel we’re better than other people. It could also be interpreted as arrogance, which takes that superior feeling one step further—to acting superior or saying that we’re superior.
Pride can also have positive connotations. The positive feelings that come from knowing we did something well or achieved something are part of our motivation for doing those things. Pride gives us confidence. It can be the foundation for our belief in ourselves and our ability.
We can feel a sense of pride about the kind of lives we lead—if we live according to our values or have had a positive influence on the world.
Feelings of pride can also be directly related to feelings of happiness or even fun (as I constantly tell the baseball players I coach).
But there is a fine line between pride and arrogance. Why are some confident people easy to be around, while others are insufferable? Why are some considered smart and decisive, while others are bossy know-it-alls?
The answer depends on whether or not they are respectful of others and their opinions.
As long as we hear other people’s opinions and listen to what they have to say, we can be decisive and avoid coming across as arrogant. Dismissing someone’s opinion out of hand can make him or her feel unappreciated and, eventually, resentful and angry. It can be beneficial to hear people out even when we know they’re wrong. We may ultimately learn something or at least become more confident in our own opinions (see Knowing). We should never let our pride get in the way how we relate to people.
We can also be proud of others.
When our children accomplish something special or overcome a challenge, the pride we experience can be overwhelming. We identify with our children and in some ways, we experience everything they experience (see Empathy). That is why it can be so frustrating when they don’t do what is expected or live up to their potential.
However, sharing this journey with our children can be a slippery slope. We have to bear in mind that they won’t always make the same decisions we would or find the same things important. We should feel pride in what they do even when it isn’t what we expected.
We should never be stingy with our pride. Something doesn’t have to be earth-shattering to be prideworthy. If we’ve done something as simple as put in a good day’s work or put a smile on somebody’s face we should feel proud.
Pride is the fuel that can power a happy life.
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